Hainault Forest Website

Written and Designed by © Brian Ecott


March 2017


First signs of Spring

 Cherry plum Prunus cerasifera  blossom on Hoghill, 1st March 2017. Photo © Raymond Small.

Horse chestnut sticky buds opening showing developing leaves and flowers. Hainault Lodge,  10th March 2017  Photo © Brian Ecott.

Frogspawn present in Bomb crater pond 11th March 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott. Unfortunately the bomb crater normally dries up before development is complete. Frogspawn was found earlier in the week at Roes Well..

Our only patch of anemones Anemone nemorosa  in flower 19th March 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott

Lichens present in the forest show Low level SO2 pollution  

Since the 1970's and the reduction in pollution levels Usnea subfloridana (pictured above) is gradually returning to London. Storm Doris brought this branch down from the treetops. Several low level SO2 lichen indicator species like Usnea subfloridana, Flavoparmelia caperata, Physcia aipolia and Ramalina fastigiata  are now present in Hainault Forest, with the mean winter SO2 at about 40µg/m3  Photo © Brian Ecott. 8th March 2017.

Flavoparmelia caperata on twig near Oak path. Photo © Raymond Small.

8th March 2017.

Parmelia fastigiata high up on hawthorn near the oak path. 8th March 2017. Photo © Raymond Small.
Physcia aipolia on hawthorn twig, hedge 2nd car park. Blue-grey lobes. Fruiting bodies black with blue-grey edge. (Width of this lichen 1.3cms) Rare in the forest. 27th February 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott
The Treecreeper on oak. It jerks up or spirally around a tree foraging for spiders and insects under and in the bark crevices. It can be seen walking upside-down along a branch, or it may fly to the base of another tree, and almost mouse-like, climb up again. It has large feet and a stiff tail for support, and a large beak for probing. 6th March 2017. Photos © Colin Carron.

Common gull with juvenile plumage on grassland near the lake.2nd March 2017. Photo ©  Raymond Small.

Coot first appearance this year, but not seen for several years. 14th March 2017. Photo ©  Brian Ecott

"From ya ankle up you're charming, yeh, but your feet's too big"  Fats Waller. Moorhen by the feeding station. Photo © Raymond Small.  2nd March 2017. Coot on lakeside showing webbed toes. Underwater the feet move together with the webs out offering greater movement forward, they fold up giving least resistance on the return stroke. Photo © Brian Ecott 17th March 2017.

Mandarin drake first appearance this year 14th March 2017.

Photo © Brian Ecott.

Male Pochard, a diving duck, on the lake.15th March 2017.

 Photo © Raymond Small

One of a pair of Great Crested grebes on the lake, hopefully a breeding pair. 12th March 2017. Photo © Raymond Small

Sharing. Robin and Grey squirrel at Sheepwater. 7th March 2017.

Photo © Raymond Small

Tiny liverworts under the lens
Tiny liverwort Lophocolea bidentata above growing on rotting log along Cavill's walk. Below is a small sample on a piece of wood measuring 2 cms. Each of the leaves  along the stem have two teeth, hence "bidentata". Photo and scan © Brian Ecott  5th March 2017

Tiny liverwort Metzgeria furcata on hawthorn (above). The lobe ends divide into two. Shows quite well in top right of this picture.

Photo © Brian Ecott. 2nd March 2017.

Tiny liverwort Radula complanata on hawthorn (top). Above  close up showing tiny yellow-green gemmae which line the edges of the fronds. These break off to form new plants. Photo and scan © Brian Ecott 5th March 2017.

The light green liverwort growing at the water's edge of  the lake inflow stream  (above left) is shown in close up (above right). In the middle of some of the lobes is a half moon shape called a gemmae cup which is moon shape giving the liverwort the name Crescent cup Lunularia cruciata.

14th March 2017  Photos © Brian Ecott and Raymond Small.


Early Red admiral basking in the sun on oak tree along Headland path near Romford Road. 6th March 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott.

Brimstone (male), Peacock and Comma were all seen on the 16th March 2017.

Bumblebee Bombus terrestris Queen 10th March 2017.

Photo © Raymond Small

Bumblebee  Bombus lapidarius Queen collecting pollen from Ground Ivy

 25th March 2017   Photo © Raymond Small

The Hidden Community under logs.
Slugs, woodlice and centipedes. 20th March 2017 in the plantation. Thanks to Simon Taylor, Recorder for Molluscs, Essex Field Club for the identification and who states "Although the yellow slugs are indeed very yellow, the size of the tubercles (the texture of the skin) suggests to me that they are Limacus maculatus."

This Leopard slug Limax maximus was found under a log on Dog Kennel Hill woodland. Not normally active during the day it moved to avoid the bright sunshine.  Photos © Brian Ecott  13th March 2017

Two Arion sp. slugs under a log. Photo © Brian Ecott  23rd March 2017.

 Slug Arion sp. under log with two Common shiny woodlice.

Photo © Brian Ecott on Dog Kennel Hill Woodland. 13th March 2017

Simon Taylor further reports, "Since the publication of the FSC Aidgap guide and the work that led up to it, the position with the British Arionids has become rather more complicated. The slugs you photographed (above) are certainly Arionids but beyond that it is impossible to say just from a photograph. Even with the specimens in hand it is far from easy these days!"

There are five common Woodlice known collectively as "The Famous Five". Here are two of them above left  is the Common shiny woodlouse Oniscus asellus at 17mm is the largest and (right) Common striped woodlouse  Philoscia muscorum - at 11mm is one of the smallest of the five. It has a black head which is just visible at the top of the picture. Photos © Brian Ecott on Dog Kennel Hill Woodland. 13th March 2017.

Black Ground beetle and a Pill Millipede Glomeris marginata rolled up under a log. Photo © Brian Ecott  20th March 2017.
Two  immature Common frogs found under log in plantation. Frogs normally mature at about 4-5 years old.  Photo © Brian Ecott.24th March 2017 Young smooth newt under log. Photo © Raymond Small,  14th March 2017

Small Ground beetle (1.2cm) possibly Pterostichus madidus,  disturbed under log, seeking shelter in leaf litter. Photo © Raymond Small, 14th March 2017.

Another small ground beetle possibly  Pterostichus niger.   Photo © Raymond Small  20th March 2017.

Both of these beetles above are predators of slugs and caterpillars.

White-legged snake millipede. 14th March 2017  Photo © Brian Ecott Centipede Lithobius forficatus. 20th March 2017. Photo © Raymond Small
Nature Detective  

Conker on a table in The Nature Reserve eaten by a grey squirrel. There was a good crop this year to last throughout the winter months. 9th March 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott.

Muntjac track crossing and scrambling up a deep ditch in the plantation. Photo © Brian Ecott. 24th March 2017.

Grey squirrels often strip bark from small branches to supplement their food requirements and for use to line their dreys. 

Photo © Brian Ecott.9th March 2017 on The Nature Reserve.




Above: A line of eyelash fungi Scutellinia scutellata growing on a rotting hornbeam log. It is reported as present in the forest although this is a first for me. Found Lambourne wood, near Spurgate.

28th March 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott


Left: Lovely close up of the Eyelash fungus showing the brown hairs or lashes. 28th March 2017. Photo © Raymond Small.

Oyster mushrooms on fallen beech on Hoghill.  3rd March 2017. Photo © Raymond Small.

Glistening inkcap Coprinellus micaceus at Roes Well on rotting stump.

11th March 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott

Beef steak fungus Fistulina hepatica on rotting oak on the Mile plantation. Photo © Brian Ecott. 4th March 2017.
Early Spring Flowers
Danish Scurvy Grass Cochlearia danica growing on the central reservation of the Romford Road outside the forest. Danish Scurvy grass is a plant of coastal habitats, but during the past 50 years has gradually spread from the coast along Motorways and now B roads due to the heavy use of salt in icy conditions  and now faster speeds of traffic help spread its seed. It is a Crucifer (a member of the cabbage family). 16th March 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott.

Two above: Wood sorrel Oxalis acetosella in wooded areas . The beauty of the enlarged flower is self evident.  25th March 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott.

Two above: Lesser celandine Ranunculus ficaria by streams and damp areas. The close up shows that the flower is related to the Buttercups family.        25th March 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott.

Above and below: Common chickweed Stellaria media and enlarged flower. Found waste places and path edges. 11th March 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott The flower has five deeply divided petals giving the appearance of 10 petals. Above and below right: Red dead-nettle Lamium purpureum a plant of waste places. Dead-nettles have square stemsThe flowers are irregular and  designed  for insect pollination 23rd March 2017.  Photo © Brian Ecott.
  The Dandelion Taraxacum officinale agg. with flower beetles. 25th March 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott.  

Common daisy a plant of short grassland.

13th March 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott.

Close up of one of our Wood anemones.

19th March 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott.

Barren strawberry Potentilla sterilis. Several patches in the plantation and grassland edges.

 27th March 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott.

 Common field speedwell Veronica persica

27th March 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott.

 Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara. The flowers appear before the leaves. Around the lake edge.

27th March 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott.

Common stork's-bill Erodium cicutarium. In short grassland and kerb edges. The "stork's-bill" is the seed pod which can be seen pointing to the top left hand corner. 

27th March 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott.


Moss Brachythecium rutabulum forms large patches in the grassland on Hoghill, especially near the top. Photo © Brian Ecott  10th March 2017

And finally..........

 This happy pair of ghosts are two of many kites flown over Hainault by Courtney which are a popular talking point bringing much pleasure to visitors. 

 Photo © Raymond Small


  February 2017


Looking for a sunny day 

Early Peacock butterfly 8th February 2017 Photo © Martin Bell at Foxburrows Farm Cottages.

Jewels on a Spiders web

This lovely picture was taken on 1st February 2017. © Colin Carron


Willow bracket Phellinus igniarius on old willow on former farm pond,  alongside 2nd car park, 6th February 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott.

This old gnarled willow near the 2nd car park is one of several in a slight depression which marks the position of the former Foxburrows Farm Pond.6th February 2017. Photo © Raymond Small.

Velvet shank Flammulina velutipes on old willow on former farm pond,  alongside 2nd car park, 6th February 2017. Photo © Raymond Small

Common Jellyspot Dacrymyces stillatus on rotting stump, back of lake,  Photo © Raymond Small. 2nd February 2017.

Raymond Small has captured the hairy surface of this fungus known as the Hairy Curtain Crust Stereum hirsutum on an old log.

1st February 2017. Photo © Raymond Small.

Left: Beech Barkspot Diatrype disciformis. on beech twig, roughly normal size. The enlargement above show the fungus bursting through the thin bark leaving flaps of tissue. 13th February 2017. Woodland on  the  golf course, Hoghill. Photo © Brian Ecott.
Beech tarcrust Biscogniauxia nummularia on dead beech. Dog kennel hill, 13th February 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott. Beech woodwart Hypoxylon fragiforme on dead beech. Dog Kennel hill.     13th February 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott
This amazing photo shows Boot lace aka Honey fungus Armillaria mellea (inset). The fungus spreads by long black cords, resembling boot-laces. These spread under bark, in roots and underground large distances to infect other trees. The width of the larger "laces" is 1 cm. and with the interconnecting laces gives the appearance of a major communications centre. Honey fungus is the scourge of foresters. 13th February 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott
On cleared woodland near Sheepwater and growing on old bramble stems.17th is Scarlet Elfcap Sarcoscypha austriaca, February 2017.Photo © Brian Ecott

Cramp balls aka King Alfred's cakes aka Coal fungus Daldinia concentrica on Ash logs near Sheepwater. Cut open they show concentric rings of silver and black. Cramp balls are exclusive to Ash trees. It is said that at one time men used to carry one in their pocket to prevent cramp. I might try one in my pyjamas to see if it cures night cramp! 17th February 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott



Grey poplars Populus x canescens. A hybrid of White poplar and Aspen, by the café has a rough bark at the base but changes to a smooth silver bark with diamond shaped fissures.

21st February 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott

Common alder catkins shedding pollen. The red flowers above are the female flowers which receive the pollen and will form the cone-like structures and will release the seeds in the autumn. 21st February 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott  

Douglas Fir Pseudotsuga menziesii Cones 20th February 2017.

Photo © Brian Ecott. The three pronged bracts on the cone distinguish

 this tree from all other conifers.

Only one tree amongst a stand of Black pines Pinus nigra

on the old reservoir site

Black pine Pinus nigra cones on the old reservoir site.. The cones appear to have a flat side and a rounded side. 27th February 2017. Scan © Brian Ecott


Above - Part of a stand of Black pines. The tree in the centre is a single Douglas Fir Pseudotsuga menziesii Photo © Raymond Small. 20th February 2017. Most of the trees here are covered in ivy which gives a good cover for wintering and early nesting birds.

Small branch tip of Douglas fir above. Lower are two needles 1.5 cms long, slightly silvery underneath. When removed from the branch the needle shows only a small  point of attachment - right.

Scans © Brian Ecott 27th February 2017


Soredia are common  reproductive structures of lichens. Lichens reproduce asexually by employing simple fragmentation and production of soredia and isidia. Soredia are powdery propagules composed of fungal hyphae wrapped around cyanobacteria or green algae. Fungal hyphae make up the basic body structure of lichen. - Wikipedia

Many of the lichen photos shown below have soredia.  
Parmelia sulcata on a hawthorn branch. (8 cms width) The whole lichen is covered in a fine white network on which soredia develop. Photo © Raymond Small. 6th February 2017. 
Parmelia perlata on a hawthorn branch (5 cms width). The lobe edges at the top left of the picture and elsewhere are covered in a fine dust. These microscopic structures are known as soredia.  Photo © Brian Ecott. 25th February 2017.

Physcia tenella on hawthorn twig. (2 cms width) Tips of lobes split and fold back to reveal soredia. Scan © Brian Ecott 25th February 2017. 

Physcia adscendens on hawthorn twig. (2 cms width) Tips of lobes are hooded then split to reveal soredia. Scan © Brian Ecott 25th February 2017.   

Physcia tenella and Physcia adscendens cover much of the hawthorn bushes and are easily visible before the leaves appear.

Physcia aipolia on hawthorn twig, hedge 2nd car park. Blue-grey lobes. Fruiting bodies black with blue-grey edge. (Width of this lichen 1.3cms) Rare in the forest. Requires a lower level of pollution compared to the two Physcia sp. pictured above.  27th February 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott

Ramalina farinacea on hawthorn twig (4 cms in width) Oval structures along the edges of the branches contain soredia. Photo © Brian Ecott.

25th February 2017.

Punctelia subrudecta [=Parmelia subrudecta] with rounded lobes at the edge. Lobes at centre have soredia.  15th February 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott.

Ramalina fastigata on hawthorn bush. One prominent round fruiting body is showing. Photo © Brian Ecott. 25th February 2017.

 February flowers  

Spurge laurel Daphne laureola in woodland near Chigwell Row Common.17th February 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott



Snowdrops Galanthus nivalis.  Old Reservoir site woodland, Hoghill.

17th February 2017. Photos © Michael Rumble

Nature detective  

Grey squirrel poo on a metre high tree stump near the lake, 1st February 2017 Photo © Brian Ecott

Muntjac poo in woodland near Chigwell Row Common. 17th February 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott


Above: Cherry stones under a log and opened by a Woodmouse. 1st February 2017. Photo © Raymond Small.

Right: Slot of Right hind leg of Muntjac deer. 13th February 2017  Photo © Brian Ecott

Holly miner

Holly miner grubs are a food sought after in the winter months by the Goldcrest (right), blue and long-tailed tits.  A substantial amount of holly is being removed from the woodland in Chigwell Row. A similar interference by the Woodland Trust who leased the site  in 1999 saw the disappearance of the Nightingale. Does anyone know what species of plant and birdlife is present in the woodland. Does anyone from the Woodland Trust care?

. Mute swan cob 17th February 2017  Photo © Brian Ecott

Mute swan pen still in her first year plumage.  25th February 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott

Batchelor group of mute swans 20th February 2017 Photo © Raymond Small.

January 2017


‘Once-in-a-lifetime’ lottery grant to preserve Hainault Forest Country Park for future generations

Hainault Forest Country Park has been awarded £4.5million by the Heritage Lottery Fund. A further £1.25m will be invested by Redbridge Council, with a further £250,000 from Vision Redbridge Culture and Leisure. The funding will improve the overall condition of the much-loved woodland, protecting threatened species and habitats and creating a range of new activities, including conservation management, animal husbandry and fruit-harvesting. This is great news - a glance at the following pictures will show what a great place this is, and it's rich biodiversity.

Last sunshine of the old year........
Colin Caron captures the final sunshine of the old year
January Moods............

Grey day at the Lake 1st January 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott

Willows in fog with frozen lake. 23rd January 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott

January 3rd 2017 and the lake has a thin covering of ice, as the temperatures fall below zero. Pictured here are Canada geese, and Mallard pairs (the drakes have green heads). Photo © Raymond Small.

Crystalline, hoar frost on vegetation. Photo © Michael Trump  22nd January 2017

Full Moon over Romford Road, from New North Road towards Chigwell Row. Photographed from Foxburrow Road. 0625am GMT. 13th January 2017.

Photo © Raymond Small

Full Moon reflection over the Lake. 0714am GMT. 13th January 2017. Photo © Raymond Small.

Light snowfall on the Golf course 13th January 2017. Photo © Colin Carron

Moon falling down behind Lake at 0730am.GMT. on 13th January 2017 which also shows a light covering of snow which fell the previous evening.
Photo © Raymond Small.

On a cold crisp night the crescent Moon and the planet Venus were close together at 5.29pm GMT 2nd January 2017 in the SW sky. 

Photo © Brian Ecott.

Frozen grassland with the Lake in the distance.  23rd January 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott.

Lengthening days...........  

Catkins (male flowers) of Hazel - 12 cm in length, and female flowers - 6 mm. Right are the female flowers enlarged, nd on which the pollen from the catkins will alight. The pollen is dispersed by the wind, and will develop  into Hazelnuts in the autumn. 25th January 2017 in the Hazel copse. Scan © Brian Ecott.



Bracket fungus Chondostereum purpureum on hawthorn behind the café 30th December 2016 and on rotting log near lake 9th Jan '17 Photos © Brian Ecott

Poplar bells Schizophyllum amplum 9th January 2017 on the underside of a rotting branch of Grey poplar near the lake.

Raymond Small made this unusual discovery of Poplar Bells growing on Willow 17th January 2017 by the Lake. Photo © Brian Ecott

Yellow brain fungus Tremella mesenterica on old rose stem. 23rd January '17. Photo © Brian Ecott

Lumpy bracket Trametes gibbosa on cut Hornbeam stump. Cavills walk, Lambourne Wood. 24th January 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott.

Flat oysterling Crepidotus applanatus on rotting elder log. 1-2cms across. Underside reveals split gills and a rudimentary stem. 3rd January 2017

 Photos © Brian Ecott

Witches butter Exidia glandulosa on oak branch, Hainault Lodge Local Nature Reserve.  27th January 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott. White  brain Exidia thuretiana is a tiny (1 cm) jelly-like fungus on rotten beech in the woodland behind the café 31st December 2016 © Brian Ecott
White rot Phellinus contiguus spotted on an oak branch by Raymond Small on 19th January 2017. The larger patch was 3cm across.  Thanks  to Tony of NaturePlus at the Natural History Museum for the ID..  Scan © Brian Ecott. The Deceiver Laccaria laccata. In the secondary woodland near the lake. The fibrous stem and the unequal gills help identify this species. 30th January '17. Photo © Brian Ecott.

Bleeding oak crust fungus Stereum gausapatum on oak log. The lower picture shows "blood" exuding from the fungus when cut with a penknife.

Photos © Raymond Small  7th January 2017..


Springy Turf moss Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus forms large swathes in short grassland on the top and slopes of Hoghill.14th Jan 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott

Grey cushion moss Grimmia pulvinata on rotting trunk. The spore capsules bend in to the plant. The leaf blade is drawn out into a long hair giving the plant a grey appearance. 6th January 2017.  Photo © Brian Ecott Wood bristle moss Orthotrichium affine on tree branch. 16th January 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott
 Scan of thin oak branch showing black fruiting bodies of  Lecidella elaeochroma. The light brown fruiting bodies are  Lecanora chlarotera..
 Raymond has captured the texture and colour of this leafy lichen perfectly. Melanelixia subaurifera [synonym Parmelia subaurifera] is growing with other lichens on an oak branch. 21st January 2017. Photo © Raymond Small. Lichen Hypogymnia physodes on oak branch in plantation area, near the Lake. 25th January 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott
The story of Laetisaria unfolds................

My chance discovery of the pink coloured Laetisaria on the lichen Physcia tenella reported in last January 2016 Diary page and the discovery of a report in an American Journal led to it's confirmation as the first report of it in the UK., thus "Putting Hainault on the Map" .The story is in Academia  under Powell M (2016) British Wildlife.
Nature Detective..........

One of six piles of rose hips hidden under a dog rose bush near the lake. The fact that there is small mammal poo present, the rose hip seeds are open and little of the flesh has been eaten indicates this is a feeding site for a Wood mouse. 14th January 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott.

This is a Song thrushes anvil. The thrush brings the snails and smashes the shells on an old green bottle releasing a tasty morsel. This thrush has been collecting Brown-lipped Banded snails. Cepaea nemoralis. The two shells centre and top centre are showing the brown lip. 30th January 2017.              Photo © Brian Ecott

Water fowl................

Tufted ducks, male and female, Several pairs have been present on the lake for a few months now. These are diving ducks. Photos © Colin Caron


Trevor has his own web page now.


What's going on here?


To follow Trevor's adventures  

click here


Three Huskies and one Malamute cross (left) with a Shih-Tzu. Part of a group of Northern breeds which visited on 31st December 2016. © Brian Ecott.
And finally...............

This old gilled fungus face on decaying oak reminded Lynda Johnson of someone. Thanks to her for the location on Cabin Hill.  Possibly old Oak Maze gill Daedalea quercina. Who does it remind you of? 10th Jan 2017. Photo © Brian Ecott